I took the week off between Christmas and New Years and decided the perfect book to end the year with was the new woolly MAMMOTH sized Neal Stephenson book. Because we were traveling down to the in-laws house, a 12 hour trip to the ship channel in Texas, I checked out a library copy. With this size of book it is easy to break the spine while reading it and this is a book that actually forces the reader to abuse it to actually read the book. In retrospect, though I was glad I didn't have to torture my own copy of the book, it would be a wise investment to purchase this book on your kindle, iPad, nook etc. This is a book made to be read digitally.
My mother-in-law who was diligently marking my progress in the book would come in at different times of the day to find me slouched in a chair with this book perched in various positions to relieve my hands, arms and back.(I still have a stubborn knot in the muscle under my scapula.) She would say, "You really aren't making much progress in that book." I would blearily pull myself away from China, Canada or the latest wonderfully tense moment in the plot and bluster, "Of course I'm making progress it is a 1,000 page book."
She was right though. I'd get to the end of a day of power reading and find my bookmark still on the South side of the center of the book. It did not seem I was really making any progress and what made it all the more interesting was I didn't care. I was willing to spend as much time as Stephenson would give me with Richard Forthrast the founder of the online game T'Rain and self proclaimed black sheep of the Forthrast clan; Zula Forthrast, the niece of Richard and the main catalyst for the plot of the novel; Sokolov, the Russian Spetsnaz trained mercenary; Csonger, the Hungarian computer hacker; Marlon, the Chinese hacker that hatched a brilliant plan to steal millions of dollars from T'Rain; Olivia, the British MI6 agent; Yuxia, the Chinese facilitator that gets caught up in much more than she expected when she offered to help; Seamus, the American CIA operative; and our ultimate bad guy, Abdallah Jones, international terrorist.
Except for Richard and Zula none of these characters knew each other before the beginning of this international endeavor to find a terrorist. In the course of the book Stephenson weaves the plot around these people and draws them all into the same goal of stopping Abdallah Jones. I was right there with them, totally taken up with the plot, feeling my body tense with each burst of gunfire, sometimes despairing that the band of international gypsies could ever catch up with Jones in time. I was glad that I had the time to read 200 pages at a go. I think reading this book 20 pages a day might have driven me crazy.
This is a brilliantly composed thriller, smart, compelling, overwhelming, and ultimately satisfying. Time well spent. Highly recommended!!!